If you love The Daily Beast’s royal coverage, then we hope you’ll enjoy The Royalist, a members-only series for Beast Inside. Become a member to get it in your inbox on Sunday.
British media organizations hoping to snap a picture of a disgraced Prince Andrew holidaying at his mother’s private Scottish residence have been warned off by the queen, The Daily Beast can exclusively reveal.
Lawyers from British firm Farrer & Co, acting for Her Majesty, wrote to major British newspapers warning the publications against taking or publishing pictures of the royal family or their guests at Balmoral the same day that Andrew arrived there.
Sources at the palace confirmed to The Daily Beast that the letters were sent out to media organizations, but they added that similar letters were sent “every holiday” and that it was therefore not remarkable.
However, the queen has been on holiday in Balmoral since July 24 and the letter was only sent on August 10, just one day after a bombshell civil lawsuit was filed accusing Andrew of raping Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
Roberts Giuffre claims she was flown to London, New York, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to have sex with Andrew when she was 17. The suit details offenses including “rape in the first degree.” The suit was filed on her behalf by the famed litigator David Boies.
The timing of the letter being sent the day after the lawsuit landed is likely to fuel speculation that the queen is using her enormous domestic influence to protect her favorite son.
A source at one paper speculated that the intention of the royals may be to protect Andrew from being pictured being served with legal papers.
Although Boies conceded in a BBC interview that it is not necessary for Andrew to be physically served with the papers, the palace is believed by some journalists to be acting out of an abundance of caution for fear that Boies could stage such a spectacle anyway to humiliate Andrew.
Andrew, perhaps not entirely coincidentally, has not been seen at Crathie Kirk, a small church near Balmoral habitually visited by the royals, since he arrived at Balmoral. The church is located on public land and therefore exposes Andrew to being photographed and/or served papers, the source pointed out.
Andrew, accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, made a beeline for Balmoral on Tuesday 10 August, the day after news of the civil suit broke and British newspapers were desperate for clues on his reaction.
That same day, the letter was sent out. Staffers at one major tabloid newspaper were sent a memo by their own legal department recapping the warning, which has been passed to The Daily Beast.
The memo says that the newspaper has been contacted “by solicitors acting on behalf of HM the Queen, her family and the Balmoral Estate” where the queen is now in residence along with unnamed other members of the royal family and invited guests. The memo says that the newspaper has been “reminded” by the solicitors that Balmoral “is a private estate and whilst there the Royal Family and their guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”
The memo then goes on to say that the newspaper in question has been “asked to ensure that any material, photographic or otherwise, that we may intend to publish is carefully reviewed before publication and in accordance with recent judicial guidance on this topic.”
Staffers who may have “published anything on this matter, including on social media” are asked to contact the paper’s legal department “before taking any action.”
A British newspaper editor told The Daily Beast: “I’ve never seen a warning like this before from the queen’s lawyers. It’s clearly to keep people away from Prince Andrew. There is no coincidence in the timing coming after Virginia Roberts filed her lawsuit against Andrew.”
Andrew has so far refused to respond or comment on the matter. He has denied having sex with Roberts, and said he does not remember ever meeting her. He has sought to cast doubt on the provenance of the famous picture of him with his arm around Roberts’s bare midriff.
If he does not formally respond to or contest the suit, he could have a default judgement registered against him. Legal experts have told The Daily Beast he would not be entitled to diplomatic immunity, but that enforcing an American default judgement would nonetheless be extremely difficult or impossible.